Eiffel tower closed indefinitely, area around evacuated

Police have evacuated the area around the Paris Eiffel tower and the surrounding Champ de Mars park

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Police have evacuated the area around the Paris Eiffel tower and the surrounding Champ de Mars park, a Reuters witness saw on Saturday.

Heavy police presence was seen at the Pullman Hotel on Avenue de Suffren near the Eiffel tower, another eyewitness, who lives along Champ de Mars told Reuters. He declined to be identified.

Other witnesses also confirmed the presence of heavily armed police at the site of the hotel.

The iconic landmark's operator said on Saturday that the Eiffel Tower will be closed indefinitely following the wave of deadly attacks in Paris.

The company decided to close the monument -- normally visited by up to 20,000 people a day -- after Friday's attacks which claimed at least 128 lives, a spokeswoman told AFP. It will remain closed "until further notice," she added.

The Paris attacks show it is more vital than ever to coordinate global efforts to fight terrorism, France’s foreign minister said Saturday, vowing that French “international action” will not stop, and adding that security at its sites abroad would be stepped up.

“It is more necessary than ever in the current circumstances to coordinate the international fight against terrorism,” Laurent Fabius said in Vienna at talks on ending the Syrian civil war.

Fabius added that France is taking steps to reinforce security at its sites abroad, including embassies and schools, after the attacks.

“I have taken the measures needed internationally to increase protection at all our sites, and by that I mean our embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools,” Fabius told reporters as he left Syrian peace talks in Vienna.

The top diplomat said that his country had been looking to "concretely" step up efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)

“One of the aims of the meeting today in Vienna is exactly to see concretely how we can further increase the international coordination in the struggle against Daesh,” Fabius told reporters, referring to the ISIS group which has overrun swathes of Syria and Iraq.

He added that in spite of the attacks “international action by France will continue.”

Witnesses said that the gunmen who killed 129 people in Friday’s wave of attacks shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is greatest”) and blamed France’s military intervention in Syria against ISIS.

The talks in Vienna involving some 20 countries and international organizations -- but no Syrian representatives -- aim at working out a roadmap to end the country’s bloody civil war after almost five years of combat.

But there are deep divisions, notably between Iran and Russia on one side and Western and Arab nations on the other, on the future of President Bashar al-Assad and which opposition groups to back.

(With Reuters and AFP)